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Cathedral fire in Nantes: Rwandan refugee confesses

A few hours after the fire of the cathedral in Nantes on 18 July, a Rwandan refugee named Emmanuel who was working at the place as a volunteer was arrested and questioned, but was released shortly thereafter.

"To my knowledge, as things stand there is nothing that directly links my client to the cathedral fire," lawyer Quentin Chabert told reporters back then and accused politicians of "meddling in the situation".

He was arrested again yesterday, Saturday. In the evening, the public prosecutor's office in Nantes heard him. In the meantime, the man has apparently become involved in contradictions and confessed to setting fire to it. He now faces ten years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros.

The residence permit had not been renewed
A week ago, the French radio station RTL had reported that the man had complained violently about his situation as a migrant and, above all, about the non-renewal of his residence permit in the days before the fire. However, he would not have threatened an act like the one he later committed. A new article on the radio station's website now says the reasons for the "criminal gesture" are unknown. A crime is declared a gesture and the obvious motive for the crime, which has already been noticed, is hidden again.

As a result of this "gesture", a large church window, some of which dates back to 1498, was destroyed. According to the responsible conservationist, very few parts of the large organ, which dates back to the 17th century, can be saved. A 19th century painting was also destroyed: "Saint Clarus heals the blind" by Ingres student Hippolyte Flandrin. Saint Clarus is considered the first bishop of Nantes. Most of the other paintings were saved - it is not entirely clear their condition. They were initially brought to the Nantes castle. The site of the fire will now be secured within weeks, Philippe Charron, the monument protection commissioner, estimates the damage will take months and even years to reconstruct the lost parts.

So did the Rwandan act out of despair about his situation? The motif seems to be quite dwarf. The man supposedly "loved" the church. Did love become hate? His lawyer, who had initially denied his client's relationship with the fire, now said, "My client worked with the authorities. He bitterly regrets the action, and to say that was a relief for him. Today my client is devoured by remorse and overwhelmed by the extent to which it has taken place."

If a Taj Mahal were in the middle of Europe, we would protect it. The same would certainly apply to a Buddhist stupa or a Taoist temple. The idea of ​​monument protection is a European idea. So what prevents us from effectively protecting the large and old buildings that are witnesses to our own history?

Source: / Tichys Einblick
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